Wednesday, 15 February 2006

I Can Be Wrong, Too

I was quite expecting the British Government to back down and not ban smoking in public or at least to foist the watered down version on the people. Thankfully they didn't. Now, following in the footsteps of Ireland, Italy and some American states, there will be a blanket ban on smoking in public in England.

This may seem at odds with my opinion on the relaxation of the Drinking Laws (ie. let the people do what they want), but no-one ever died from passive drinking. Yes, drink in combination with other things (cars, say) can be deadly to people other than the drinker. Drink can exacerbate other problems (violent idiots are more prone to be idiotically violent - if you banned everything that could help a violent idiot cause more harm you'd ban kitchen knives t.... oh...) but, in and of itself, drink is only dangerous to the person drinking.

Also, there's plenty of evidence that drinking in moderation can be beneficial, something that can't be argued for smoke.

I guess though I only want the state to interfere in things that I don't personally enjoy, except I do like a cigar every now and then.

At least my position isn't anywhere as stupid as Simon Jenkins (see if you can spot all the falacious argumentation in there straw men, the motive falacy, bad analogies, etc):

The present government's double standard in these matters is glaring. It clamps down on the use of marijuana and other scheduled drugs, yet tolerates their mass consumption in its own prisons. It has just liberalised the laws on alcohol consumption, a public and criminal menace worse by far than smoking. It has relaxed the licensing of late-night pubs and is shortly to free casinos. Yet its oppressive safety legislation persecutes harmless church entertainment, public meetings and even steam railways. The reason is that this government is a soft touch to a powerful lobby but bullies a weak one.

I'm not sure how much wronger Jenkins can be, but, just to reiterate, relaxing the licensing laws has lead to less drunken crime, marijuana has been reclassified as a lesser drug for a number of good reasons and if the government is such a soft touch to a powerful lobby why didn't BAT, or whoever, manage to stifle this bill long before now?

Only a hair's breadth separates the nanny state from the police state.

The thing of it is, smoking hasn't been out-right banned. It's banned in public places. You can, if you want to, quite happily smoke as much as you want so long as you're not breathing that smoke over anyone who doesn't want you to. How that equates to a nanny state let alone police state is beyond me.

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